St. Justin Martyr: Apologist and Father of the Church
June 1st marks the feast day of St. Justin Martyr, an early Father of the Church. He was one of the first apologists for the Christian faith and has been regarded as the leading interpreter of the theory of the Logos (the Word of God) in the second century.
Justin was born into a pagan family in Neapolis around the year 100 A.D. After spending years studying pagan philosophies, his quest for religious truth led him to investigate the Christian religion, which he found answered the great questions of life and existence better than pagan philosophy. Already impressed by the zeal of Christian Martyrs, he became a convert to the Christian faith at the age of thirty.
Following his conversion, Justin moved to Rome where he opened a school in which he taught the best elements of Greek philosophy in the context of Christian belief. Known as “the Philosopher,” he was the first layman to serve as an apologist — one who defended in writing the Christian faith against the attacks and misunderstandings of the pagans. Among his writings are some of the earliest accounts of the celebrations of Baptism and of the Eucharist. Because of his faith in Christ, he was martyred by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius around the year 165.
St. Justin is considered the most important of the second century apologists, and is an outstanding model for lay apostles of today. His life was devoted to the task of harmonizing the wisdom of the world with those greater riches revealed in the true Faith.
He is the patron saint of: apologists, lecturers, orators, philosophers, and speakers.
“We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus.” – St. Justin Martyr, First Apologia, # 66
“We are slain with the sword, but we increase and multiply; the more we are persecuted and destroyed, the more are deaf to our numbers. As a vine, by being pruned and cut close, shoots forth new suckers, and bears a greater abundance of fruit; so is it with us.” – St. Justin Martyr
“Philosophy is the knowledge of that which exists, and a clear understanding of the truth; and happiness is the reward of such knowledge and understanding” – St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 3.
Prayer to St. Justin Martyr
St Justin Martyr, pray for us that we would defend the faith, not just in word, but in deed as you showed by your life and death as a martyr for Our Lord Jesus Christ.
O God, through the folly of the Cross You taught the Blessed Martyr Justin, the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ; grant us, by his intercession to avoid all the deceits of error, and to become steadfast in faith. Through the same, Amen.